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NBA Draft: Examples of how staying in school can affect draft stock

For every 10 athletes who gladly skate down the professional path, there's an outlier who chooses to forgo the payday and remain an amateur, at least for a year. Here's a look at how that worked out for Blake Griffin, Jared Sullinger, Harrison Barnes and Sam Bradford.
BY ANTHONY SLATER Published: April 3, 2013

Result: Ohio State went deeper in the tournament, eventually falling in the Final Four, but Sullinger didn't show great improvement. He averaged similar numbers (17.5 points and 9.2 rebounds) and showed a propensity for getting his shot blocked at the rim. His NBA stock plummeted, but Sullinger declared anyway, going 21st overall to the Celtics in the 2012 Draft. He's averaging 6.0 points and 5.9 rebounds in limited time this season.

Stock remained the same

Player: Harrison Barnes

Year: 2011

Situation: Highly regarded out of high school, Barnes was solid but not overwhelming in his first season at North Carolina. However, his consistent production (15.7 points and 5.8 rebounds) and NBA body (6-foot-8, 210-pound wing) attracted professional scouts, with many projecting him in the top-10.

Quote: “He really had no wrong decision to choose, but I believe he is coming back to school because he enjoys college basketball, he enjoys the University of North Carolina and he enjoys his teammates. If he had decided to leave for the NBA, that would have been OK, too, because he will always be a Tar Heel. But it will certainly be a lot of fun to coach him again.” — UNC coach Roy Williams

Result: Barnes' sophomore season was a lot like his freshman one, complete with similar production (17.1 points and 5.2 rebounds) and an Elite Eight exit (one win away from the Final Four both years). And in conjunction, his stock essentially stayed the same, eventually landing in Golden State as the seventh pick in 2012. He averages 9.3 points and 4.0 rebounds for the playoff-bound Warriors.

 Cross-sport example

Player: Sam Bradford

Year: 2009

Situation: OU lost the 2009 national title game (24-14 to the Tim Tebow-led Florida Gators), but a first round payday was already cemented in Sam Bradford's NFL future. He passed for 4,720 yards, 50 touchdowns and won the Heisman as a redshirt sophomore and many expected him to be the first quarterback selected. But Bradford surprised many, announcing his return to Norman for his junior season.

 Quote: "I've dreamed about playing at Oklahoma since I was little. My three years here have been probably three of the best years of my life. ... I feel there's no need to cut this experience short." — Sam Bradford

 Result: Bradford fell awkwardly on his shoulder in the 2009 opener against BYU, eventually resulting in season-ending surgery. It's the type of serious injury that strikes fear and stirs debate during the “should he stay or go?” scenarios. But this never hurt Bradford's stock. He went No. 1 overall in 2010, signing a six-year, $78 million contract with the Rams.